Monday, December 26, 2016

The Real Winner of the 2016 Sportsperson of the Year....

The death of British singer, songwriter—George Michael—on Christmas Day serves as a punctuation mark on what so many people have deemed a year of total loss. The world also bid farewell to several music icons in 2016—David Bowie, Glenn Frey and Prince (NB: a future posting will be written about the many athletes and coaches who are no longer with us). Though their legacy lives on, their music remains. We still miss them.

I have a sneaky suspicion that on New Year's eve you will read on social media a tremendous number of bitter goodbyes to 2016. I would put smart money on at least one toast at your local party serving as an "F*** you 2016." Never before have I heard so many people proclaim they were ready to be done with these 365 days. I thought even years were supposed to be good? Maybe the "7" in 2017 is something folks look forward to...?.... Regardless, it's more than fair to say that 2016 has not been easy.

The crisis is Syria is so heartbreaking, I have difficulty reading about the plight of these refugees, the persecution of Christians and the violence too many children have suffered. Race relations in the United States reached Fahrenheit degree more than the temperature at which paper combusts. The violence in our inner-cities: Oakland, Chicago, Detroit—the struggle is too real. And as much as people want this year to end, prior to November 8, 2016, I have never heard so many state that they wanted the presidential election to be over. When it was, a new pandemonium broke out. 2016, you took no prisoners....except for one. Sports...and guess what? Sports won.

Sports put up a fight, one of its very best in decades. Sports showcased epic victories in our heartland (NBA Finals and the World Series) on our homeland (Ryder Cup) and internationally (in Rio) that should not be overlooked. Records and droughts were broken. Honestly, LeBron James should not have been named the Sportsperson of the Year. I wish Sports Illustrated had given the honor to....sports. 

As written by the editors of SI, 
Every month, it seemed, unlocked a watershed moment, bigger and more dramatic than the previous one, a sort of Russian nesting doll in reverse. Who, last January, would have been so bold as to predict that the Cubs, a team from Cleveland and a 5,000-t0-1 long shot in England would win titles? Other shocking events—the Olympic excellence of Bolt, Phelps, Ledecky and Biles, a record tying seventh NASCAR title for Jimmie Johnson—bolstered the argument for this being the Greatest Year in Sports.
So if you would like to change the tone of your New Year's celebration beyond resentment, despair, anger, or fear, I'd like to suggest raising a glass to the following great moments in sports. Please post and share your own!
  1. NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Game: Villanova d. UNC. With 4.7 seconds left on the game clock, Kris Jenkins to Ryan Arcidiacono to Kris Jenkins for three and the national championship over North Carolina.
  2. When Madison Bumgarner defeated the formidable right-hander Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets at CitiField, San Francisco Giants fans truly began to believe that maybe—just maybe—a single player could bring another World Series title for the 4 time in 6 years. MadBum led the Giants in their only defeat of the Chicago Cubs in what became a 13-inning game that lasted at nearly seven hours. I kept thinking of my brother, the biggest Giants fan I know who remained awake at 3:00 a.m. to see the finish. Ultimately, Bumgarner did NOT get the win in that game and we know who did not win the Series. That being said, much of America was happy for the Cubs, or suddenly became Cubs fans. The outcome of the Presidential election seemed to rain on their media victory parade. That being said, over one million people attended.
  3. Ryder Cup, Hazeltine, MN. Though 2016 wasn't one of the great years for men's golf—Spieth had an epic collapse at the Masters, the finals of the US Open (which I loved) was fighting for time with Game 7 of the NBA Finals, and the PGA Championship faced one rain delay after another, the Americans took the Ryder Cup title by a definitive score of 17-11. Some folks don't like the trash talking and ardent emotion of match play golf. Golf purists are uncomfortable with etiquette on vacay, but I loved seeing good golf. The competitive spirit was alive and bumpin'. Great job Team USA!
  4. Klay Thompson drains a 3 in Game 5 of the Western Finals. As written on NBA.comwhile Klay Thompson added 27 points as Golden State sent the best the best-of-seven series back to Oklahoma City for Game 6 on Saturday night. The Warriors trail 3-2 and are trying to become just the 10th team to rally from a 3-1 deficit. Thompson's shot that rocked Golden State's world, singlehandedly changed the momentum of that game. The Thunder did NOT want to get on that flight back out to the Bay Area. History proved why. I'll keep silent about the next chapter of this story...a different team, who also came back from a 3-1 deficit.
These are but a bit of my favorite moments from sports in 2016, and there are literally hundreds more. There are folks who left the game: Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Peyton Manning and David Ortiz among others, and those who left us (again, future posting). I do not want to deny that 2016 has been incredibly challenging. The world has seen some dark days—too many—but for all our readiness to put 2016 in the books, I urge you—before you do—raise a glass to the miracles that unfolded before our eyes. Thank you sports.

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